Thanksgiving comes with a side of anxiety for many people. Sweet potatoes, turkey, cranberry and stuffing… the focus on foods tends to invite feelings and comments about the imagined effects on our waistlines. This time of year it is common to hear things like, “Ugh, I shouldn’t eat all of this,” “You’re getting a second plate?,” “Come on… you must try the pie!” Sometimes it seems like food policing, binge/restrict cycles and body shaming are baked into the holiday.
This is a concern for many. Eating disorders are common, with one in ten people diagnosed with one. Countless others face the effects of diet culture, weight stigma or poor body image. If you want to better support yourself or those around you, here are some things to consider.
Ditch diet talk. Diet culture is based on the harmful and false idea that weight loss and thinness equate to health and morality. Giving everyone the chance to enjoy a holiday gathering without shame leaves more room for connection.
Everyone eats differently and has varying appetites. Give yourself permission to eat what and how much you want to. Mind your own plate — don’t comment on people’s bodies or food consumption. Each person has the right to self determination.
Avoid skipping meals to compensate for Thanksgiving dinner or engaging in guilt-driven fitness to burn off calories. Embrace activities that feel right for you, whether it's resting on the couch or taking a hike, bringing your own meal or trying every dish and dessert.
Listen to yourself and tend to your needs. Breaks are okay. Utilize mindfulness, positive self talk, paced breathing, whatever skills are in your toolbox. Lean into support such as an online network, recovery community or trusted friend who can be your ally.
As we navigate this holiday season, go easy on yourself and remember that you are not alone. If you are concerned about your relationship to food or your body, talk about it with a therapist (or anti-diet registered dietician) who can help you process and address them.
Here are additional resources for further information about eating disorders:
Lauren Chase, is a clinical social work student in her final year of graduate school at Boston College. As an intern therapist, she is grateful to offer financially accessible care for those seeking therapy without insurance benefits. With an integrative and intuitive approach, Lauren draws from person-centered therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, emotionally focused therapy, somatic practices and mindfulness. She prioritizes building genuine, empathetic therapeutic relationships with clients from a diversity of backgrounds. Lauren is interested in working with clients struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, ADHD and identity issues.
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